The 12th National Parliament election is over. A new government has also been formed. What the ruling Awami League wanted has happened. So far the government has been saying that they have to face diplomatic challenges along with these two old challenges, political and economic. However, even before the election, the newly-departed party had to face the pressure of foreigners, especially America and the Western world.
For any government, be it new or old—the first 100 days are crucial. And this time it is more important for the Awami League government. The new government also felt that they had to show some visible success in the political, economic (especially commodity price controls) and diplomatic arenas. Then the management of the government will be much easier for the next 5 years.
Awami League has come to power for the fourth consecutive term. And it is natural that the ruling party has to face various challenges. After the election was held amid a large boycott, the government has yet to see anything of the kind that was expected to come under American pressure. America and the West have expressed their displeasure with the vote but have made it clear that they will continue to work with the Bangladesh government. Besides, many people thought that America would impose sanctions on Bangladesh like Cambodia after the vote, but that did not happen either. The country has not yet said anything about the visa ban on poll workers. The leaders of the ruling party feel positive about the presence of diplomats from almost all countries at the swearing-in ceremony of the new government’s prime minister and ministers and their congratulations to the new government.
On the other hand, it does not seem like the government will have to face massive pressure from the opposition political parties within the country. The main opposition party, BNP, is not in a position to go on a tough program for now. The team may work to regroup themselves. But the continuation of the party’s movement to overthrow the government has been interrupted.
Immediately after the election, as there was no major pressure in the country or outside the country, many are naturally asking the question – did BNP make a mistake by boycotting the election? Such questions have been further fueled by the writings or interviews of some eminent persons in the media. In interviews and writings, these people have blamed the government for not holding elections with the participation of all parties, and they have also said that BNPO has also made a mistake by leaving the election field empty.
Just one day before the 12th National Assembly elections, the English daily Daily Star published an interview with former Cabinet Secretary Ali Imam Majumder. The title of the interview was ‘BNP should not have left the field despite caretaker government’s demands’.
In response to a question, Ali Imam Majumdar said, ‘I will say about those who did not participate in the elections, mainly BNP, that no political formula is non-negotiable. They are keeping with only one formula, the government has to resign. Without a caretaker government, they will not go to any discussion, they will not hold elections. Nothing like this is non-negotiable. I think it would have been good for them if they had gone to the polls even in the current context.’
Of course, Ali Imam Majumder said this at a time when BNP had no chance to come to the polls. However, when the election schedule was announced, he along with 47 other citizens demanded to cancel this election schedule and hold a new election.
Not only Ali Imam Majumdar, but also BNP should have come to the election, thinks Amena Mohsin, professor of international relations department of Dhaka University. He wrote a column about this in the Daily Star on January 11.
The main point of Amena Mohsin’s writing is that the vote was not participatory because BNP did not participate in the election. BNP should have participated in the polls even at risk. He also wrote that BNP has always been saying that it will not go to the elections under the Awami League without a caretaker government. But has the party voiced any issues for the common people?
However, the BNP leadership thinks that there is no mistake in their decision on the issue of not going to the elections. The BNP was defeated in the 2018 elections — this is what BNP leaders believe. The situation would have been the same if the BNP had gone to the polls this time. Selima Rahman, a member of the party’s standing committee, believes that it cannot be a decision to go to the polls to legitimize the Awami League’s rigged election. He said, ‘Whatever anyone says, people boycotted voting. Here only one team and their eligible teams participated. Hence it cannot be a vote. BNP is adamant about their one-point demand (the fall of the government).’
However, the joint general secretary of the Awami League and the foreign minister of the new government. Hasan Mahmud felt, ‘The main task of the government was to give all kinds of support to the Election Commission in a free and fair election and to implement the Election Commission’s wishes. I think that the government during the election has been able to fulfill that responsibility properly.’ He said, BNP has been called to come to the polls. they didn’t come It is their decision.
BNP was agitating to demand the fall of the government. But the party could not realize that demand. At one point, the party started organizing programs demanding boycott. About 42 percent votes were cast in the election. The party claimed that the people have responded to their call for low turnout. However, the BNP leadership could not tell anything about what it is doing to meet the demands of the caretaker government by bringing down the government. Some leaders feel that many top leaders are now in jail. If they get rid of them, BNP will start the program of movement anew.
However, Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam wrote a column in his newspaper on January 13 after taking oath of the new government.
In the article entitled ‘Power from one party to one person: What was “virtually”, now it is “lawful”‘, he wrote, ‘Another example of how much control Sheikh Hasina has over the most important event in a democratic country is the election of the 12th national parliament. It becomes easier for him as the opposition boycotts. As most of the issues were cleared in advance, there was no disruption on the election day. BNP has proved that they are not capable of understanding Sheikh Hasina’s strategic thinking and planning and have given very little thought to the high short and long term costs they will have to pay for boycotting the elections.’
Mahfuz Anam also said in his writing, ‘Taking the suicidal decision of boycotting the elections has added a new dimension to the process of marginalization of BNP.’
Author: Chief News Editor, Digital Division, Independent Television